Most published authors have been asked for advice by people contemplating publishing a book. I get it. The mere thought of it can be daunting and who better to ask than someone who has done it before? Believe me, I've been in your position before.
So, in an effort to help you, I'm going to give you some tools to help you on your pending publishing journey. 5 Tips for Aspiring Authors
Let me preface these tips by giving you one hard truth that some people seeking advice hate to hear, "If you're not willing to do the research to become a self published author, you should hire someone to do it for you, or submit your manuscript(s) to a publishing company. It is called "self-published" because it requires you to "do it yourself". It is relatively easy to self publish a book these days, but publishing is maybeeeeeee 1/10th of what's important. What's important you ask? Content, genre, and exposure! But, I'll cover THAT another time. Today, we talk about the basics of getting published."
Before we start: These tips are for people with finished manuscripts (novels, books, whatever you want to call your finished work). I am a writer, but I am a fiction writer. Not a writing coach. Unfortunately, if you need help with the completion of your manuscript, direction, etc., I am not the right resource for you. (Though you may find these tips helpful in the future) Everything I'm about to advise below was obtained via Google. I'm 100% sure you can find help for whatever you're looking for, via a Google search. I promise!
5 Tips for Aspiring Authors
Edit it: One of the key mistakes I made as a new author, and at times as a seasoned author, is not properly editing my manuscript. I don't mean just making sure the spelling is correct or that you've used the correct punctuation either. Editing is more involved than that, and there are various forms of editing that are required. If you were really good in English in school, you may be able to follow tips from these 3 websites to get your manuscript up to snuff for publishing. 10 Ways to Edit your Own Book, Mastering The 3 Stages of Manuscript Editing, and How To Edit A Book. You can also use free software like Grammarly to aid in your editing process, but there's nothing like a human editor. Even some of the best writers, who think they are awesome wordsmiths, turn out to be slack editors without realizing it. (🙋🏿I've been guilty of this). There are a ton of paid services that can provide quality editing if you choose. You can probably find some great ones through a basic FB, IG, Twitter or Google search, but here are a couple, Elite Authors, and Scribendi.
Copyright it: Your manuscript is finished. Awesome! Now you need to copyright it to protect your work. Is it mandatory? No. But it is a secondary source of protection for what you hope will become a successful book. Where do I register my copyright? In the United States, through the Library of Congress Copyright Office. What does a copyright entail? FAQ. The last time I checked, the fee was $35 and it usually takes about 3 months or less. If you have multiple manuscripts, you may be able to upload them at the same time.
Is Self-Publishing for me?: Now you have to decide if you want to submit your manuscript to a publishing house or self publish. There are a lot of pros and cons to both choices, but in a nut shell, it won't be a cake walk either way. There are no guarantees that any publishing house you submit your manuscript to will accept it. All publishing companies have requirements, many only represent specific genres, and even if your manuscript is accepted, it may take months or even years before it is released. The relinquishing of control and a percentage of your royalties in exchange for potential mass exposure and access to resources not easily available to self published authors may be worth it for you. The plight of a self published author is not easy. You will be responsible for providing or paying someone to provide every aspect of promoting, creating and distributing your work. These blog posts Traditional vs Self-Publishing & Self-Publishing vs Traditional Publishing: 2020 Deep Dive, can be helpful in aiding you to make an informed decision about which publishing option may work best for you.
Where do I publish my manuscript?: There are several ways to publish your manuscript. Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, Smashwords and Ingramspark are among many who will allow you to upload your manuscript for distribution in eBook and Paperback formats. Keep in mind that each will require specific formats in order to get them ready for publishing on their platforms and to other platforms they may supply, including public libraries. All books, even eBooks, utilize ISBN#'s or the equivalent of them. ISBN stands for "International Standard Book Number." They are unique, typically 13 digit identifiers for each edition of a published work. You will either need to purchase one on your own, or you may be offered one by your publishing source which may or may not leave you beholden to that source for distribution on that platform. FAQ.
Book Covers: All books require a cover prior to distribution. If you lucked out and are already a graphic designer or illustrator, AWESOME! If not, you may need to seek professional cover makers to literally, give a face to your work. Or at least some type of design for people to be able to identify and differentiate your book from thousands of other books. You can search social media for various freelance and professional cover designers, or can use sites like Fiverr, Selfpubbookcovers, & BookBub to find your cover designer. Keep in mind that whether you will be publishing an eBook or a Paperback is key in cost variations. Paperbacks also require a back cover and are formatted differently as they have to fit print parameters, so the creation of those covers typically requires more time and design correlation for front and back matter. If you're the do it yourself type, you may be able to create your own covers using Microsoft Word Powerpoint or Photoshop. There are also other DIY sites like Placeit, Lulu, and Canva.
Welp, there you have it. Those are my 5 Tips for Aspiring Authors. Keep in mind that publishing a book is just the beginning and there are several other things you'll need to do to prevent your work from dying in obscurity. What good is a published book if nobody reads it, right? So the next journey you'll need to embark on, which is often the most intimidating part of self-publishing for authors is marketing, marketing, marketing!
I hope I've been able to help. I've been a published Romantic Suspense author since 2012 under One Ironwoman Publishing (not currently accepting manuscript submissions). My books are available in eBook, Paperback and Audiobook. Order autographed copies on my website, or purchase them from your favorite bookstore or supplier like, Amazon, Audible, Barnes & Noble. Don't forget to follow me on social media and sign up for my mailing list for contest and new release info before you go. I'm pretty entertaining if I do say so myself!